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Bleiburg Cultural Initiative |  Soul jazz is back

Bleiburg Cultural Initiative | Soul jazz is back

Recently, increasing numbers of bands and musicians have begun to return to the revolutionary spirit of jazz in the 1960s, which had not only an aesthetic but also a political impact. Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis plays lead. He performed at the funeral of free jazz pianist Cecil Taylor in 2018 and quoted him in his first Carinthia concert in Villach in 2021: “Every man is his own academy.” Each person is responsible for his own training and has the mission of finding what is special within himself. Sometimes he doesn’t even know what it is. Brandon Lewis has found it, and he can also name it as a composer and use it in a variety of groups: spiritually in a duo with Alexis Marcello, brutally in a trio with bassist Shahzad Esmaili and drummer Chase Smith (last summer in Borg Finkenstein), and finally this time a free-for-all that transcends tradition , and full of empathy in the tried-and-tested quartet with pianist Arwan Ortiz, bassist Brad Jones, and drummer Chad Taylor.

Arwan Ortiz

© Michal Novak / Global

And while Lewis has so far left the political dimension of the revolutionary developments of the 1960s on the left side, his pianist, the Cuban-born Arwan Ortiz, has just released a brilliant new album about Martin Luther King (“The Pastor’s Paradox”) on Clean. He feeds. He has masterfully arranged the structure of his oratorios for an extraordinary jazz ensemble with, among others, clarinetist Don Byron, drummer Veron Aklaf, spoken word singer Mtomi Gant and two cellists (!). Unfortunately, the equally challenging and desperate line “Who says there are no relationships?” From Martin Luther King’s famous speech “I Have a Dream” also has a lot to do with the USA today and was organized by the band Brutally.

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And while we’re on the subject of the booming ‘spoken word’: the exciting band that emerged from the black American protest movement: Irreversible Entanglements comes highly recommended with their new album ‘Protect your light’ (released by Impulse your light) and phenomenal singer Camae Ayewa. Album opener “Free Love” sounds like a short, peppy version of Coltrane’s soulful title track, “A Love Supreme.”